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PAP2300 (5)

5 - Agents of Parliament.pdf

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Public Administration
Frank Ohemeng

140 Agents of Parliament In the constellation of bodies that make up the machinery of government, there is always the question of accountability Recently, there has been an increasing trend toward empowering Parliament to better hold the government to account in the face of the growing concentration of power in the hands of the prime min ister, his courtiers, and the bureaucracy in general hence the evolution of bod ies called agents of parliament. This is a unique group of independent statutory officers who scrutinize the activity of government and report directly to Parliament rather than to government or an individual minister. As a result, they exist to assist with Parliament's oversight role. These agents typically produce Understanding Canadian Public Administration TABLE 5.2 Agents of Parliament Name of Institution Portfolio Office of the Auditor General Finance Office of the Chief Electoral Officer Privy Council Privy Council Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages Office of the Information Commissioner Justice Office of the Privacy Commissioner Justice Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Treasury Board Source: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Annual Report to Parliament: Crown Corporations and Other Corporate Interests of Canada, 2008, www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/reports-rapports/cc-se/2008/cc-se03-eng.asp#Toc220113622. reports to Parliament to account for their own activities, and their heads are typ ically appointed through special resolutions of the House of Commons and the Senate. To maintain their independence, they are said to exist at arm's length from the executive branch of government. The degree of influence exercised by the executive is therefore minimal, at least in theory. However, Stephen Harper has demonstrated that a determined prime minister can retain considerable dis tance from the influence of these bodies. Examples of agents of Parliament include the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Public Service Commission, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Others are shown in Table 5.2
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